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Change at Avon

Dan Smith

Nothing is so certain as change – even in Avon.

Actually, that statement isn’t really true. There is one thing equally as certain as change: people’s resistance to it!

The Avon Town Council’s public hearing on revising the Village at Avon’s game plan bears that out as much as anything. The village was originally planned four or five years ago, when the world was four or five years younger and a lot more innocent. Four or five years ago, the stock market was still booming and terrorists were not terrorizing, at least in the United States. Four or five years ago, real estate was still “hot” and there was a shortage of rental property. And four or five years ago, the town of Avon and Traer Creek Development reached an agreement on how to develop the abandoned and exceptionally ugly STOL airport in the heart of town and some of the ranch land above the valley into an attractive and productive part of our economy.

Even then, some people objected to the change while others embraced it. Four or five years ago, both sides negotiated the current deal based not only on what the world looked like then, but what each thought it might look like in the future.

Not surprisingly, both sides were wrong. Neither one predicted the decline in the stock market, oor that mass murder as a political statement would become a fact of American life.

As a result, the current state of affairs is no longer optimal for either party. Today’s Town Council faces a similar set of choices and has a set of naysayers who are unremarkably similar to those of yesteryear.

Don’t change anything! they cry. Any change will harm me! they bellow. No hotel on the interstate (even though it might attract more visitors and produce some revenue to pay of the projects bonds and get the town some sales tax revenue quicker than would otherwise occur.) Don’t give people who buy lower priced homes the ability to have a rental unit to offset their mortgage (despite the need for affordable housing that was used by more than one councilman as part of their campaign platform).

No change! Not now! Not ever! Unfortunately for the naysayers, history has shown us that those opposing change almost never get what they desire. By the very act of obstructing one change, they cause another – often with more serious consequence.

Opposing a tax revenue-producing hotel could eventually result in higher sales or property taxes in the future as the town seeks new revenues.

Stopping lock-offs can result in fewer affordable housing units, driving more of our friends and neighbors downvalley, taking their purchases, and Avon’s sales and property tax revenues with them.

This Avon Town Council, like its predecessor, will have to grapple with the challenge of balancing the “no changers” with the “let’s doers.” And like the last council, its decisions are going to make some people happy and others sad.

And that, so the story goes, is the purpose of government. If it can’t make everyone equally happy (and no government has ever succeed at that), than it is going to make everybody equally unhappy. Traer Creek is not likely to get all it wants. The folks on Hurd lane, and an outspoken psudo-journalist, aren’t going to stop all the changes they oppose either. On this issue at least, there appears to be plenty of middle ground on which Council and Traer Creek can reach an accommodation that will manage the growth of the town without unduly restricting the landowner’s ability to create profitable projects. And that is the way it is supposed to work!

Dan Smith is an adjunct professor at Colorado Mountain College.


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